The Importance of a Delivery Cushion
Optimism is a wonderful quality, but expecting everything to go right in the world of production is risky business! Anyone who has tried to manufacture something, knows it’s a process that can be fraught with error. It’s hard to place blame on any one factor, but this is actually where the problem lies… there are so many inputs! When you’re dealing with multiple suppliers trying to meet multiple sets of specifications, and then you factor in delivery deadlines, freight providers, and customs brokers – and the reality that any one of these factors going awry could have a domino effect on all the rest – it’s not surprising that producing goods is challenging.
The key is not to try and anticipate every problem. Rather, it is to build in a cushion in terms of your expected delivery time, so that you have ample time to address and correct issues as they arise. Much like having a savings account for unexpected emergencies, delivery buffers safeguard expectations, and prevent you from disappointing distributors, customers, and your team.
If you make your products domestically, a week or two can be enough of a cushion. If you are producing overseas, you’ll want to budget at least 2 additional weeks into your projected schedule. It’s important to communicate your buffered deadlined to customers and sales prospects, but not to your suppliers. Their job is to meet your agreed upon delivery dates. Anyone who knows that they have extra time may very well spend it!
Building in a cushion is especially important for those early on in their businesses, who aren’t as practiced in making their product or as familiar with their suppliers. Counterintuitively, it is also important for those with smaller orders, as suppliers may be more likely to bump a smaller customer from the schedule in order to make room for a higher-paying client.